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National Labor Relations Board retains longstanding contract-bar doctrine

Office of Public Affairs
202-273-1991
publicinfo@nlrb.gov
www.nlrb.gov

Washington, D.C – In a decision issued today in Mountaire Farms, Inc., 370 NLRB No. 110 (2021), the National Labor Relations Board decided to retain its longstanding contract-bar doctrine.  Under that doctrine, the Board ordinarily will not process any representation or decertification petition that is filed during the first 3 years of a valid collective-bargaining agreement, save for petitions filed during a specified “window period” before the expiration date of the agreement.   

Previously, on July 7, 2020, the Board issued a Notice and Invitation to File Briefs, inviting the parties and interested amici curiae to file briefs addressing whether the Board should (1) rescind the contract-bar doctrine, (2) retain it as it currently exists, or (3) retain the doctrine with modifications.  In addition to not rescinding the contract-bar doctrine, a majority of the Board decided not to modify the doctrine at this time.  Member Emanuel dissented from this portion of the Board’s holding. 

Applying the contract-bar doctrine to the particular facts of the case, a majority of the Board reversed the Regional Director’s finding that the contract bar could not apply in this case because the contract contained a clearly unlawful union-security clause.  A Board majority instead found that the union-security clause was capable of a lawful interpretation, which is all Board precedent requires for a contract bar to be effective. Member Ring dissented from this portion of the Board’s holding. 

Charges were filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Chairman McFerran and Members Kaplan, Emanuel, and Ring participated.  

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.